MacColl sat down and laid the torch on the stone next to him. They’d been exploring the mazelike passages of the Tower of War for hours and had come across nothing but already looted rooms and the decayed bodies of their former guardians. The dwarves didn’t sit outside the dungeon for their health and had obviously enabled other adventurers in before them.
Tanner and Vec were along today as well as Tanner’s stony-faced friends, Lorsan and Hero. It made a decent crew but MacColl knew they’d miss the thumping power of Lunk and Liam.
“Hey…” said Tanner softly, looking at the wall above MacColl’s head. “Something odd here…” MacColl looked up and could see nothing but a pair of rock outcroppings that had him thinking warm thoughts of Andrea back at the Green Dragon.
He stepped out of the way and let the halfling do his work. After some exploration with his knife, he finds a stone that pushes in easily and reveals the outline of a door. The door swings open and when MacColl bring the torch close, they see a crystal object on a pedestal in a small alcove about the size of a human hand.
Tanner checks for traps but when he gets up to the pedestal he can’t resist grabbing the crystal. He sees a tiny village inside the crystal and then there is a flash of light.
“I didn’t do iiiiit….” wails MacColl as they disappear.
Voices are chanting a cheery ditty… “Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas, Welcome Christmas, Come this way! Come this way! Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Dah who dor-aze!”
We are standing in the village we saw in the crystal and are greeted by a rough little man we learn is called Frank.
“Ah, its a Festivus miracle! Come with me!” says Frank happily and leads us to his dingy home. Inside are his family: Kramer, George, and Estelle.
“Welcome to our home in this time of Festivus, our greatest holiday. Come eat with us and partake in our traditions.”
We agreed to do so, mostly because the “roast beast” smelled inviting.
“Before we may eat, we must perform the Airing of Grievances!” announces Frank. “I’ll go first. George, I’m highly disappointed in you. Three separate jobs in one year and you’ve lost every one of them!” Frank prattles on and the others get their turns as well.
At last, Frank turns to our party and instructs us to follow their example.
“Some of us remain limited by gravity,” snarked Vec.
“Vec, I believe that your unfettered curiosity shall be the end of us one day. I am agrieved by it,” replied MacColl, thinking of the numerous times that a more patient and prudent approach had been abandoned in favor of Vec or Tanner’s impetuous actions… not unlike the grab that brought them here in the first place.
“MacColl, if you would only stick with robbing the living and not the dead, we’d be having better luck right now,” groused Vec in return.
“I am aggreived that MacColl swore up and down that he could beat the chess champ and then he got his ass kicked,” added Tanner.
“He’s right about that,” chimed in Vec.
MacColl turns purple with anger and glares at the hobbit. “As if you could do better!!!”
“That’s the Spirit!” shouts Frank.
Tanner continued, “then he complained that the champ was part of some secret organization and the he cheated the whole time!”
“Well, naturally, there can be no other explanation for my defeat,” retorted MacColl, pleased that they’d realized the truth. “I do wonder if both of your incessant curiosity is a false front… a ruse… neither of you did I see chance the fortune teller…”
“And how would you know if i spoke to the fortune teller. where you spying on me? are you afraid that i am in the same secret club as the chess master?” asked Tanner.
“For such tiny, smelly feet, we could hardly miss your comings and goings, such a clod-stomper you are. No wonder those men in the purple robes watch you…” teased MacColl.
“Those men in purple only live in your head,” grumbled the halfling. “If you would stop having those hot flashes, then maybe you would realize that.”
“There are such mysteries in the world as you will never understand, my height-challenged friend. There are webs all around us. Enjoy being caught in yours,” sniffed MacColl as he turned back to his food.
Vec was the one who called for reason. “We must not allow our stinking feet or our arrogance to allow us to fall into fractious bickering!”
Tanner was having none of it. “Oh shut up, mr. don’t take stuff from the dead. Why are you even coming into a dungeon if you aren’t going to loot it? Idiocy.”
Vec glares at the halfling. “Watch it, I have nothing against taking things from the very recently deceased…”
“Well done!” exclaimed Frank. “You sound like old hands at grievances. But now we proceed to the next tradition, Feats of Strength! You each have a chance to wrestle me and take away the laurels of Master of Festivus.”
Frank looked overweight and out of shape so MacColl calmly stood up, depositing his over-robe on his chair and flexing his spindly arms. He was not expecting Frank to launch himself from his chair to tackle the taller wizard and take him to the ground.
“Go Frank! Get him!” yelled Estelle.
MacColl found himself struggling to get out of the wirey but surprisingly strong grasp of this Frank creature. Only with some luck was he able to get on even terms again, if only for a moment.
The battle slipped back and forth quickly. “He’s like grabbing onto a rancid vat of lard!” sputtered MacColl. He continued to be surprised by Frank’s moves and had to keep twisting as they wrestled all around the room.
“How can a man be so sweaty and clingy at the same time?” whined MacColl as the melee continued. George is shaking his head as this brings back memories.
Just as MacColl is about to surrender when Tanner “accidentally” knocks over a pitcher of water, distracting Frank. MacColl gets behind Frank and finally has the upper hand.
“You know,” whispers Vec to Tanner, “MacColl is better at wrestling than he is at Dragon Chess.” Tanner nods in agreement and laughs.
Continuing to help, Tanner “slips” on the spilled water. The battle rages onward, knocking over chairs and driving Frank’s family to the heights of cheering and screaming.
“Frank, I’m about to have a grievance with you,” pants MacColl, tiring out.
‘The vat of rancid lard has me pinned…’
Frank is victorious. “We must celebrate at the Festivus Pole… wait, where is the pole?!?” He runs out of the house. “Who would have done this?”
Everyone steps outside and sees that almost all the presents and decorations have been taken from the village leaving the buildings and residents, dim and depressed. After some quick investigation, we spot sleigh tracks and those of a dog leaving the village for a nearby mountain.
“I must find this tiny horse and free it from its thief of a master,” declared Tanner.
“Liberatus!” agreed MacColl as he looked over the food on the dining table. MacColl grabs some food and wine and they all trudge up the mountain.
“Never fear, Frank. We will get your festivus pole and return!” vowed Tanner.
“You truly are not from around here! But my family and I thank you!”
The tracks lead up to a cave with a small hut outside of it. Tanner leads the way into the cave until he spots its master, a troll-like creature in a red suit enthusing over a large pile of stolen presents.
Once again, as MacColl begins to whisper about having a plan, Tanner strides forth. “Foul Beast! You have stolen the Festivus pole!”
“Guess our standard plan of battle is once again ‘attack!’…” sighed MacColl. He stepped up and cast a glittering emerald streak of light to the troll, surprising it. Hero and Lorsan charged ahead with Tanner to besiege the troll while MacColl and Vec spread out to attack it from a distance.
During the battle, a song could be heard ringing in the cave, no doubt from magic mouth spells…
“You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch You really are a heel, You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mister Grinch, You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!
You’re a monster, Mister Grinch, Your heart’s an empty hole, Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul, Mister Grinch, I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!
You’re a foul one, Mister Grinch, You have termites in your smile, You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mister Grinch, Given a choice between the two of you I’d take the seasick crocodile!
You’re a rotter, Mister Grinch, You’re the king of sinful sots, You’re a heart of dead tomato squashed with moldy purple spots, Mister Grinch, You’re a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!
You nauseate me, Mister Grinch, With a nauseous super “naus!”, You’re a crooked dirty jockey and you drive a crooked hoss, Mister Grinch, Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots!
You’re a foul one, Mister Grinch, You’re a nasty wasty skunk, Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mister Grinch, The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote, “Stink, stank, stunk”!
Things got much worse when a huge white beast was summoned from out of a nightmare. Vec and MacColl battled it, eventually setting it ablaze and slaying it.
“Now that’s what i call roast beast,” crowed Vec.
By this time, Tanner had grabbed the Festivus Pole and was dragging it out of the cave.
Tanner yells out “Frank! I have the Festivus Pole! The Grinch wants to wrestle you for it!”
MacColl grabbed the pole and ran it out of the cave while the others made sure Hero and Lorsan made it out as well.
“Man, that MacColl can run like the wind when he is scared!” groused Tanner.
Halfway down the mountain, pursued by the enraged Grinch, we encountered the Whos of Whoville singing. The singing touched the Grinch’s heart and he gave all the presents back.
Frank was so grateful that he gave us the Festivus Pole (10’ long). (OOC: The Festivus Pole acts as a Rope Trick. However, you have to Wrestle Frank to get out. It takes you back to where you went in. You have to do the Airing of Greivances to activate the power.